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LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT!

LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT! LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT!
02/21/14
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by Justine Downes and Claire Repp
Let’s talk about Late Night. In light of the recent retirement of long-time late-night TV king, Jay Leno, from The Tonight Show, late-night devotees have wondered how this change will affect their post-primetime television options. With the onboarding of Jimmy Fallon as the show’s new host, a related concern of these viewers is how this changing landscape will also affect the show that first broadcast Fallon’s talents, and the true paragon of the late-night breed, Saturday Night Live.

For those less acquainted with the brand, SNL is a cultural icon that has dominated comedy television, and beyond, for over 40 years. This sketch-comedy cabaret has built powerful brand equity, bolstered by unforgettable casts and characters. Characters like The Blues Brothers, Roseanne Roseannadanna, Two Wild and Crazy Guys, The Coneheads, Church Lady, Wayne and Garth and “Sarah Palin” have deeply resonated with generations in this country and have mirrored the pervasive cultural zeitgeist. Producing comedic greats like Dan Aykroyd, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey and so many more, SNL has a rich history and social identity that rests firmly on the chemistry and performance of its cast members.

As any true fan knows, some seasons simply aren’t like the others. So the recent loss of veteran Seth Meyers to his own late night show, as SNL alum Jimmy Fallon takes over The Tonight Show, raises the question of how this will affect the SNL brand and how other major cast transitions have affected the SNL brand in the past.

If we look at the BAV data within the last decade, we can see that the brand has experienced noticeable movement over time…

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In an effort to discover what could be driving these shifts in equity for the iconic brand, an interesting pattern revealed itself…

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It turns out that major shifts in the composition of the cast over the past decade align with major shifts in the brand’s overall equity. Cast shake-ups, like the departures of Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, mark periods of cast transition that contributed to brand equity declines for SNL. Correspondingly, periods of cast consistency aligned with periods of equity growth for the SNL brand.

Do casting changes solely explain shifting consumer equity for SNL? We cannot say for sure. Will history repeat itself in 2014 and initiate new shifts for SNL? Stay tuned to find out...


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